2 Years of Interestsofajaneaustengirl

Hej Guys!2nd year anniversary

I just noticed that I have now been running this blog for 2 years! Imagine that! I have already written so much about my passion for the Regency world, and I have met so many people, lovely authors and bloggers, who have written about Miss Austen’s beloved characters in their own setting, time and frame.
I just want to say thank you to everyone who has visited, commented, helped or just seen my blog, I am glad that I am able to entertain and hold your interest, with my travels, reviews and book tours that I have been part of, these last two years, it is a delight to find so many like-minded people around the Globe.

Here’s to many years of writing, reading and more friendships, and acquaintances to come.

Cheers, see you next time

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The Best Laid Flight Plans

Hi Guys!!!

The Best Laid Flight Plans Front Cover

I am back this time, with Leigh Dreyer as my guest, she has been good enough to allow me to introduce, “The Best Laid Flight Plans” which is Leigh’s modern Pride and Prejudice Book to you guys! Leigh Dreyer is a huge fan of Jane Austen variations and the JAFF community. Leigh is born and raised in the Air Force Community, just as Elizabeth Bennet in “The Best Laid Flight Plans” with her Air Force husband, and two adorable children. Leigh is inspired by her own life, in Del Rio in Texas and had an almost magical experience transforming Del Rio into Longbourn City in her new book.

 

 

If you like flying above the clouds, seeing the world underneath you then this book is the book for you!

 

 Blurb

In this modern Pride and Prejudice variation, Captain William “Fitz” Darcy has just received a new assignment as an instructor pilot at Meryton Air Force Base. Soon he meets the intrepid 2nd Lieutenant Elizabeth Bennet, a new student at the base that he cannot keep out of his head. Elizabeth, on the other hand, finds Captain Darcy to be arrogant and prideful and attempts to avoid him at every turn. Despite Darcy’s insulting manners, Elizabeth soars her way through pilot training, but can she soar her way into love as well?

 Now I will let you all read what charmed me utterly when I started reading this lovely, and quite interesting turn of Pride and Prejudice into the Air Force Community and how our beloved couple ends up together, or will they? I give you chapter 1 of “The Best Laid Flight Plans”

 

Excerpt of Chapter One

The clouds burst below, and wispy peaks spiraled out as the plane surged through the sky. Captain William Darcy gazed at the horizon, crimson ribbons blazing across the sunrise. These peaceful moments were the only time he participated in anything resembling prayer. He checked his altitude and trimmed up.

“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings…”

Darcy recited these lines from “High Flight” to himself as he scanned his surroundings and instruments again, his situational awareness high. 

This mission was bittersweet. His last in the F-22. He would miss the deep alien whistle from the engines as it flew over the base, close enough to wave at families walking near the harbor. This sortie was an easy ride, nothing but practice and war games, but he took it seriously. He knew a few meters off perfection meant life and death. A slight left bank and the deep green mountains were to the east as he approached the runway for a quick touch and go.

Those jade Hawaiian mountains rising from the blackness of the earth were what he loved most about this base. Oddly, they were quite alien to his upbringing in Central New York. The woods surrounding Pemberley were green but never quite this other-worldly, tropical color. Somehow Pemberley’s hills and forests were more real, and he missed seeing the horizon curve over the gentle hills of his land. Here, that prospect was only available in the sky and he ached for it. He loved that feeling of being alone in the world and watching it go on forever.

Pushing forward on the stick, he felt the quick descent in a tactical approach before touching the runway for a split second—up on the thrust and away again, off to his place in the clouds and his head. He ran through the memorized checklist he needed to complete on this ride… Touch and goes: check. Ship car: incomplete. Go to the TMO office: incomplete. Schedule movers: incomplete. He blinked, staring unseeingly at his controls. Damn moving checklist! He halted the intruding checklist and reoriented to the task. Tactical approach: check. One more turn and then in for the landing.

He could not allow himself to think about moving again as he had spent enough energy on it already. He would have a quick Pilot Instructor Training in San Antonio and then the three-hour drive to the Mexican border to Longbourn City and Meryton Air Force Base to train America’s best and brightest student pilots. He loved flying more than anything in the world but wondered if that love extended to the staleness of helping brand new pilots grasp the basics of the T-38 Talon.

Darcy hated moving; it was the worst aspect of the Air Force. Having grown up at Pemberley, near the Finger Lakes, Darcy always knew his place in that perfect, idyllic world. He did not understand how anyone would ever want to leave where they had grown up. Pemberley was the place his soul lived. He looked again at the green around him as he flew, but it was not the right shade—nothing like the bright emerald leaves at home. Pemberley had the best views the world had to offer: brilliant green trees in the summer, vibrant fall colours in autumn, winters full of snow and sledding, and fields of wildflowers to rival any florist shop in spring. There were lakes for swimming, canoeing, or fishing. There were large rocks and mountains to hike. Darcy had never known a bored moment in his childhood.

His father had taught him to fly at twelve, first in a small Cessna and then later in the Bonanza. Together with his father, Darcy had grown up looking down on the prospect of his family’s holdings and missed them every time he was in the air. Flying was the only thing that kept him connected to his father and, thus far, the only reason he continued to tolerate moving by the whim of the Air Force.

Meanwhile, Meryton, Texas was stuck in the middle of a desert. When he looked up information about the base, the pictures only showed brown dirt, brown grass, brown sage bushes, and brown mesquite trees. The only positive was that there were ranches nearby. Bingley had even talked about leasing a little working farm and maybe living together when he arrived. Perhaps this move would be fun if he could put himself back in wide, open spaces where he belonged. He might even mentor Bingley in the business of agriculture along the way. William Darcy and Charles Bingley had become best friends at Cornell despite Bingley being a couple years junior. Both had been business majors and in the challenging program, Darcy’s reticence had balanced Bingley’s natural exuberance; it was a relationship that worked well for them both and followed into their military careers.

Darcy shook his head brusquely. He could feel his precision lagging as he pulled back from his daydreaming. Bank left, roll right. He held the stick just a little tighter and felt the metal, hot and slippery in his hand. It was hot. The cockpit was always hot, regardless of the external temperature, and as he pulled his damp flight suit away from his sticky chest, he smelled the musk of his sweat. It would be even hotter at Meryton. Hotter than Pemberley, to be sure. Possibly hotter than Hell itself, if his friends were to be believed.

On the upside, at Meryton, he would be able to go home to Pemberley occasionally as Meryton was near an airport and the ops tempo was significantly lower. As an instructor, he would be able to enjoy holidays, a luxury he had not experienced in the last four years; he might even be able to get other leave approved for once. Hawaii was too far to go home often and when he did go, he just depressed himself. Georgiana deserved more than a brother who moped around the house, seeing ghosts around every bend and hearing voices that could no longer be heard. Besides, he missed Mrs. Reynolds’ meals. He added “Enjoy a glass of Pemberley cabernet franc” to his moving checklist.

 

“Tower, this is Fitz 27. Request five-mile initial for the overhead.”

“Fitz 27, this is Tower…” Darcy listened and noted the vectors to begin his landing. After breaking, he threw down his landing gear and banked right, watching his speedometer and began to slow to two hundred and fifty knots after breaking over the numbers.

 

“Fitz 27 in the Break,” Darcy spoke clearly into the mic, adjusting the mask slightly closer to his lips in an effort to maintain clarity for the air traffic controllers watching the field.

“Fitz 27 Clear to Land,” the tower replied through the scratchy radio.

“Roger. Clear to Land.”

Darcy snapped the aircraft right again and applied the slightest of back pressures to the stick continuing his turn through the perch. He crossed the runway at fifty feet and grimaced as he felt the thud of a harder than usual landing. He pushed on the brakes and began his taxi to park. The runway was smooth, and he felt the long muscles of his legs flex as he steered toward the hangar.

Per tradition, with his last flight in the F-22, his squadron would be waiting for him with ice water and champagne ready to dump it over him in celebration before his move. He was not ready for the fini-flight celebration and began to recite another checklist to calm his rising anxieties. Smile during taxi to park. He promptly raised the corners of his mouth into what he hoped was a look of glee. Check. Take everything important out of flight suit pockets: check. Done before even leaving for the flight.

The plane slowed and stopped smoothly while the air traffic marshaller crossed his arms in front of him signalling the stop. Next, to the controller, a tall teenage girl echoed his movements, blonde hair blowing in the morning breeze. Darcy’s plastered smile grew as his lips turned into a real grin when he recognized his sister, Georgiana. As she crossed her arms in front of her chest, he put the brake on and stopped the plane’s rolling.

His flight stood with pressurized water hoses, coolers, and champagne bottles at the ready. He threw off his belts, helmet, and mask and opened the cockpit. As he stepped onto the ladder, the deluge started. The other pilots laughed and hooted in celebration. He closed his eyes to the onslaught of water and champagne and blindly stumbled down the ladder to the runway.

Shouts assaulted his ears while the pressured veins of water stung his skin beneath his flight suit.

“Fitz!”

“Darcy, you call that a landing?”

“Don’t spray the cockpit!”

“Hooray!”

“Fitz!”

“William!” His teenager sister’s voice rose out amongst the tumult.

Darcy ran toward Georgiana and as Darcy reached her, he felt the cool, sticky flood of champagne down the neck of his flight suit. Her thin frame was crushed and soaked by his hug. The cascade continued, sending chills down his spine and down into his leg and boots. The sweet smell of the alcohol mixed with his sweat and Georgiana’s perfume. He released her and turned to his cousin and was grasped in a bear hug.

“Richard!” Darcy’s shout was muffled over the water spray and ear-piercing shouts.

The two men laughed, Darcy, patting the back of his shorter cousin. The hug was interrupted by Georgiana jumping on his back as he grabbed her legs and spun her around. Onlookers clapped and cheered at the small family’s overt affection.

 “You have a real career in air marshalling, G,” Darcy said while lowering Georgiana to the ground.

Richard performed large sweeping hand motions in a teasing echo. “All those dance classes really paid off. Glad to see Will’s money wasn’t spent in vain.”

Georgiana blushed. “I can follow directions. It’s not that hard. Besides, I’ve never been allowed to do it before, so I was just excited they would let me even try.”

Darcy shook hands with his flight mates amidst the revelry.

“Good luck, Fitz.”

“Better you than me, old man.”

“If you see Hammock there in Meryton, tell him ‘hi’ for me, would you? He’s great to get a drink with. I think he’s in the 15th so you’ll have to keep an eye out for him.”

“Next time we gas up at Randolph over a weekend, I’ll give you a call!”

A helpful lieutenant took a group photo of the soaked but smiling faces, and Darcy escorted Richard and Georgiana back across the privileged-access runways. The rest of the squadron drove golf-carts and maintenance trucks and travelled quickly back to the unremarkable brick squadron building.

“Rich, I had no idea you would be here! How on earth did you swing it?” Darcy looked at Lieutenant Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam with a gleam in his eye. He noted Richard’s short auburn hair stuck up in a variety of interesting directions from the sticky champagne and cold spray.

“I had a little use or lose leave left, stopped by Mom and Dad’s, grabbed Georgie, and flew here. It was a near thing. We almost missed our connection in LA.”

Timid and mouse-like, but exuberant, Georgiana said, “Will, you should have seen us! We were running all through the terminals. I thought for sure we would pass out before the second one. We were wicked fast. I love to fly, but if I never go through LAX again, it will be too soon.”

 “Oh, Fitz—”

 “Richard, you know I hate that nickname.” Darcy grimaced and rolled his eyes toward the heavens. Georgiana giggled as she looked between the two.

 “Fitzwilliam is a perfectly fine nickname. Besides, Mom loves it.”

 “She loves it because… She thinks it’s cute.” Darcy sighed.

 “It is pretty cute.” Richard pinched Darcy’s cheeks as Darcy pulled away, smacking his hands, despite also carrying flight bags and his helmet.

Georgiana jumped in. “You are pretty cute, Fitz…” She burst into a fit of squeaking giggles.

Richard’s grin grew wider before sighing. “Anyway, Mom and Dad say ‘hello’ and I’m supposed to tell you that they think you should hurry up and get married so they have the hope of seeing a new generation of Fitzwilliam children before they die. I do believe they have finally given up on me.”

Richard was good-looking enough, if not handsome: dark auburn hair, green eyes with an ever-present hint of mischief, and a stocky build. He never seemed to lack a date but never seemed to want to settle down either. With his elder brother Preston’s marriage to a woman who does not want to have children, Richard was Aunt and Uncle Fitzwilliam’s only chance at grandchildren.

Inwardly, Darcy frowned despite his outward smiles. He would love to find someone to share his life with. He had been lost after his parents died, and a lasting love while in the military was difficult. Besides, Darcy could not fathom even introducing any of the women he had met to his younger sister. “Well, I’ll work on that”—tossing a flight bag at Richard’s head— “and maybe I’ll just mail-order one. Do they still do that sort of thing?”

 “Are you excited about your new station?” Richard asked.

 “Meryton? It’s not my number one pick, but I suppose it will be okay. I’ll be on the mainland, but I’m not looking forward to teaching know-it-alls who have never even been near a big boy plane, let alone in one.” Darcy clenched the straps on his bag as he picked it back up and swiped his security tag against the panel that opened the large, grey metal door.

“You mean know-it-all brats, like you?” Richard winked quickly at Georgiana and rushed down the stark hallway before Darcy could respond.

Wasn’t that just lovely? Seeing the sky and feel the freedom through Darcy’s eyes?! I fell in love even more with flying than I already am! I was strongly reminded of “Top Gun” while reading the book and couldn’t help but feel a little bad for Darcy when he falls for Elizabeth, and how she acted towards him! Poor guy, even if he was somewhat an arse because he’s shy and not comfortable in large gatherings.

 

My Review:

 

Flying high above the world, feeling the freedom and yet the control about flying must be one of the greatest feelings in the world. Leigh has written with both feeling and experience about flying above the skies, in her lovely book of “The best laid flight plans” where we are treated to a first-row sight of Darcy as an instructor at Longbourn AirBase in Texas, and Elizabeth as a student, earning her wings.

The opening chapter was without a doubt my ultimate favourite with the description of flying, and how Darcy felt in his own machine high above the ground, and yet still he is recognizable to Austen fans and readers, as the brooding man Austen first introduced us to, and the man we have come to know and love through BBC and movie versions of “Pride and Prejudice”.

It was extremely great to see how Darcy and Elizabeth would evolve within the Avionic World, and yet how their feelings still get them in trouble with each other and their hearts.

Leigh also managed to make her book very believable and made the reader feel drawn into the story and the location of Meryton Airbase and village around it. The characters of Bingley, Jane, Elizabeth and Darcy are without a doubt the strongest characters throughout Leigh’s book, though Anne did leave a somewhat positive experience, and Jane and Bingley were a pleasure to read, they are just a cute and adorable couple, and Leigh had their romance written in such a way that left the reader sighing happily.

I was beyond ecstatic when Pemberley appeared in the book as well! I was so pleased to see Mrs. Reynolds, and Georgiana – and even Darcy appear at his home where he finally shows his affections for Elizabeth so clearly that she cannot be in any doubt of his feelings. It was lovely! I was only sad to see the scene end so quickly.

I can admit to feeling EXTREMELY happy, for a feat Leigh got through in her book, which not many other authors of this genre have done, but I can also admit to feeling a little ashamed of just how happy it made me as a loss of a human life is sad. But never fear, its not one of the good guys.

While reading the book, it made me think back to “Top Gun” and “An Officer and a Gentleman” it gave some internal images of both Richard Gere and Tom Cruise as their respective roles, both who wants to fly jets, and I could easily see Elizabeth take up the role of commander in a flight alongside Darcy, or in their own respective jets and soar across the sky into the sunset together.

And finally, though the ending had me moaning the words, “Open-ended damn!” But then thought quickly after that, “Of course there must be a second book coming” and personally, I can’t wait to see what Leigh comes up with next.

 

You can all contact Leigh via these Contact Information;

 

Author Name: Leigh Dreyer

Email: leighdreyerauthor@gmail.com

Facebook: Leigh Dreyer

Facebook Page: @leighdreyerauthor

Website: http://www.leighdreyer.com/

Social Media Information

Hashtags:

#TheBestLaidFlightPlans

#LeighDreyer

#JAFF

#AustenInspired

 

Well, guys that were it for this time! I hope you enjoyed it and are in the mood to go and get your hands on this modern P&P book! It’s worth it! Thank you all for reading this blog, I look forward to your comments and to see you soon again for my next blog entry.

 

 

The Assistant Continued

Hi Guys!

I know it has been a while, but lovely Riana Everly has been good enough to write an epilogue for her amazingly good book, “The Assistant”since I asked if we couldn’t get a view of Edward and his unconventional wife later in life, and with a grownup Elizabeth with Darcy. And lately, Riana has returned from her trip to Europe with her family, and sent me the copy of the aforementioned Epilogue!

You can contact Riana via these links;

Universal link to the book: www.books2read.com/theassistant

Website: www.rianaeverly.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/RianaEverly/

Twitter: @RianaEverly

 

Now, I will let you read the Epilogue/Short Story! Happy Reading!

The Assistant – Epilogue: A short story
by Riana Everly

Summer, 1816

Edward looked down onto the streets of Derby from his room at the inn. The cobblestones shone wet from the night’s heavy rains and the air hung heavy with the smell of smoke, but the sun was struggling through the clouds, which in turn were thinning by the moment. The tang of memory hit Edward as keenly as the scent of fresh-baked bread from the kitchens below. It had been nigh on seventeen years before, on a day very much like this one, when he had last stayed in this room. That was the day his life changed, and oh, what a blessed change it had been! He chuckled at the recollection and took a lingering glance around the space before gathering the remainder of his belongings to load onto the coach for the last stage of this journey. His business completed to the satisfaction of all parties, he was headed back to his family.
The distance was not great—a mere ten miles—but the necessities of a late appointment the day before and another this morning just as the town was awakening had kept him in Derby overnight. Now he could put those cares away for some several days and enjoy the holiday he had planned. So enrapt was he in his memories and musings that he felt he had just settled into the carriage when it turned off the road and onto the path that led to the estate he had come to know so well. It was here that his dear wife had grown up, and here that his brother-by-marriage had settled with his own family, happy to care for the land that had been so hard won.
And there, running from the house, were the figures he would recognize anywhere. His two young daughters, still little girls in lace and bows and ribbons, all giggles and squeals and the gap-toothed smiles of childhood, tumbled over each other in their excitement at the sight of the carriage. As soon as it came to a stop, even before the grooms came to see to the horses, Edward had alighted and scooped the two children into his arms, covering their rosy faces with kisses, uncaring of his own face and clothing being covered in the remains of whatever jam they had eaten at breakfast. “Julia, Helena! How are my two best girls?” He laughed with them and whispered a secret about some gifts in his trunks. He had not been away for long, but he missed his family! Julia would soon be too big to embrace like this, and he vowed to enjoy every tickle until that day arrived.
Standing up now, he could see his sons waiting for him. Thomas wished for a hug and an embrace such as his sisters received, but he was clearly reticent. Edward well recalled the days when he, too, felt too old to demand such obvious paternal affection. Beaming his joy, he strode over to where the twelve-year-old boy stood and threw one arm around the lad’s shoulders, whilst ruffling his other hand through his son’s fair hair. “I trust you have been keeping a keen eye out for your mother and siblings, eh Tommy?” He was rewarded with a smile that mirrored his own. “I found that game you so enjoyed at a shop in Liverpool. We shall have plenty of time to discover its secrets before returning to London next month.”
And there, behind Thomas, lurking in the shadows, was Samuel. He was nearly fifteen years of age, quiet and serious, already taller than Edward, and lanky, with his father’s sandy hair and his mother’s pale eyes, as well as her startling intelligence. Sam would not appreciate such a physical show of paternal love, but would be well pleased with private chat after the chaos of the arrival had settled, when the two could talk man-to-man. Tea, and perhaps a game of cards or chess—those would suit Sam well.
And there, with a smile that after seventeen years could still illuminate his heart in the darkest of nights, was his wife. His beautiful, charming, unconventional wife. She said not a word, but waited quietly in one corner of the entry until all the rest of the party had dispersed back into the house, and then she grabbed his arm and pulled him into her corner, where she welcomed him home with a kiss that would surely shock their children. “I’ve missed you, Edward,” she whispered, before pulling him in for another embrace.
Before long, Edward’s belongings had been sent to his rooms to be unpacked, and the family were gathered in the morning room, where his brother-in-law and his family were waiting to greet him.
“Good success, Edward?” the gentleman asked.
“The best, Harry,” Edward answered between sips of coffee and nibbles of scone. “I shall have to take on another associate soon if business keeps up this way. Even with all the troubles,” he alluded to the armies of unemployed former soldiers trying to keep body and soul together, and to the severe shortages of flour and other staples, “we are doing tremendously well. I shall see about sponsoring more spaces at the local school for bright children in the area, and shall be able to double my contribution to the children’s hospital in London. We have been fortunate and what better way to show our gratitude than to share our fortune with the needy?”
“And that,” Harry’s voice took on a serious note, “is why you are the one man I know good enough for my sister.”
“I have news, Edward!” his wife wandered over from the sofa where she had been sitting. “You will never guess who is coming to visit, and to stay for some days, even!” Without giving him a chance to respond, she continued, “None other than Lizzy and Darcy and the children! They arrive this afternoon. It seems Darcy wishes to confer with my brother about how he is integrating the new factories without turning farmers off their lands. Whilst the men set about that matter, we shall have the pleasure of Lizzy’s company. Are you not delighted?”
Indeed, he was. Lizzy had long been his favourite niece. From her earliest childhood, Edward had predicted she would make a splendid match, and this she had, enticing one of the best—and wealthiest—men in this part of England to fall in love with her and marry her. Darcy was quiet and reserved almost to extremes, but he and Samuel had found a connection much like his own with his niece, and Edward was most pleased with this choice of relations. Lizzy could not have done better, for she and her husband suited perfectly, each with strengths to complement the other’s relative shortcomings. They would be welcome guests indeed.
~*~
As promised, the Darcy’s arrived in plenty of time before dinner to settle into their chambers and give the children some time to grow accustomed to the house. Arlenby was much smaller than Pemberley, but it was not their home and tender feelings must be accommodated. The older of the two, a son and the pride of his father’s life, was curious and sharp-witted, sounding much older than his three years when he spoke. The other, still a baby at thirteen months, was a sweet little girl who looked the image of her mother. They were only slightly younger than Harry’s children, and would remove to the nursery when not being doted upon by their parents and cousins. Edward’s youngest daughter, now eight years of age, immediately appointed herself baby Beth’s protectress and special guardian, cooing, “I can look after the baby all by myself! Yes, I can!”
Will, the Darcys’ son, scampered across the room in which the families were gathered. “Where is Cabal? I know he was with the other carriage. Has he not yet arrived?” The young voice seemed at odds with such clearly enunciated words and such perfect sentences.
“Cabal?” Harry asked.
“My hound,” Darcy replied. “He accompanies me when I travel. The children are quite lost without him. He will stay in the stables…”
“If he makes friends with my own hound, he may stay in the house,” Harry interrupted, earning a rare and brilliant smile from his guest.
“Thank you. Let us make that decision later. For the nonce, I would be pleased to conduct my son to the stables.” This pronouncement was met with general approval from all the children, and within moments the proud Mr Darcy led an excited contingent from the room, a veritable Pied Piper albeit with far less sinister motives.
“Darcy is far from the solemn youth I knew as a lad,” Harry smiled at Lizzy, who held baby Beth on her lap, the only child not to join the procession. “You have improved him.”
“Nay, sir, he is as he always was. He requires only comfort and the company of good friends to allow his true nature to shine forth!” She bestowed a beautiful smile upon her host, and Edward felt his own lips respond in kind, so pleased at the happiness evident in his favourite niece.
~*~
The following day Darcy and Harry retired to the study to discuss the matter that had brought the latter thither, and Edward and his dear wife spent some hours attending the discussions, for although the topic was of no personal relevance to them, it was a matter of interest and one that must affect the entire country at some time or another.
“For all its prosperity,” Darcy explained to the others in the study, “Pemberley is traditional—backward, even—in its economy. I know that industry is the way of the future, and where I must venture if my land is to retain its value, but I cannot countenance throwing good farmers off the good land. I have established some small mills on marginal land and at some of the fast-moving streams that flow down from the crags and hills, and still, I know this is not enough. You seem to have found some creative means to keep your farmers on your lands without sacrificing the productivity of your factories,” he directed to Harry, “and I would be most pleased to hear your ideas.”
Harry nodded and reached for a pile of maps and plans and began to explain his own careful plans and how they had unfolded over the past several years. Edward followed the conversation with interest, his mind wandering only occasionally as some notion or another sprung up as to how his own business might benefit from the concepts under discussion. With his own comments and those of his astute wife, and the morning passed more quickly than he could have imagined.
When they broke in the early afternoon for refreshments, they found Lizzy and Harry’s wife in animated conversation with their youngest children playing contentedly at their feet. Baby Beth had discovered the joys of building towers of wooden blocks and then sending them crashing to the ground with squeals of joy, and Harry’s two-year-old daughter Emily was contentedly ripping up scraps of three-day-old newspaper.
“Where are the others?” Darcy asked as he bowed low over his wife’s hand and caressed it with a kiss.
“Samuel made mention of a pond, and Will insisted on visiting it. Between Julia and Helena and Miss Lemmon’s careful attention, I saw no reason not to permit the outing. The day is fine, too fine to remain close to the house.”
“A grand plan, my dear,” Darcy smiled. “And it is excellent for cousins to grow up to be friends as well as relations. Such close connexions will serve them all so well as they grow.” Edward was aware of Darcy’s deep friendship with his own cousin, and concurred.
The six adults were soon settled at their own repast when noises from the garden doors drew their attention, and a gaggle of children rushed into the sunny parlour where their parents sat with tea and sandwiches. Faces were kissed and heads ruffled, until Darcy asked, “Where is Will?” His voice was cold, his eyes icy. This, Edward now knew, was a sign not of indifference or disdain, but of distress.
“Will?” Lizzy’s alarm was clear.
“Is he not home?” Miss Lemmon gasped. “I had thought he had returned with the girls, just a few minutes ago.”
“No,” Helena stated, “he did not join us to look at the roses, but rushed back to the pond where the boys were.
Samuel’s eyes grew wide. “I did not see him at the pond after he followed you,” he directed at his young sister’s. “We all thought he returned to the house with Cabal.”
“He is with Cabal?” Darcy’s voice, whilst still tight, eased the smallest amount.
“If he is with Cabal, he will be safe,” Samuel asserted. For all his own alarm, Edward knew the deep affection his son held for the Darcys’ large hound, and was quite convinced that the dog would protect its people with its life.
“We must find them! We must be off at once!” Lizzy leapt from her chair, and rushed off, calling for her hat and boots. Harry barked orders at the maid, who in turn dashed off to assemble a party of servants to assist in the search. Darcy was already at the door, calling for directions to the pond, whilst Harry’s wife assured everybody that she would remain with Miss Lemmon and the children, and would take care of baby Beth.
Despite Samuel’s confidence in his canine friend, the panic in the room was palpable: a three-year-old was missing!
Quick plans were made, and the various searchers ran off in their assigned directions to locate the child. He could not have travelled far, although he had been missing for nearly a quarter of an hour. Darcy’s voice shouted that he seemed not to be at the pond, although everybody held that dread that the boy might have fallen in and drowned. Lizzy could no longer hold back her tears and ran off to her husband who was stripping down to his shirt and breeches in order to dive into the pool of water to assure himself that his son was not in its depths.
In the chaos of tears and shouts and wringing of hands, Edward looked at his wife. “You don’t think…?”
“He could not know if it,” her sweet voice replied, “but we must be certain.” She now called for her own boots, and Edward did likewise, before meeting his lady at the door closest to the laneway that would take them to their destination.
“Where are you going?” Lizzy called from the gardens, her voice breaking with distress. Darcy had seen no sign of Will in the pond, but there were other dangers all around.
“An idea… just a thought… it cannot be, but one never knows…” her aunt replied as she moved smartly down the lane.
“I will join you!” Lizzy rushed after them, heedless of the state of her dress or of her red eyes.
The three moved quickly down the avenue of trees and shrubbery, past the edge of the property and into the woods beyond, whence came the trickle that fed the pond. There came to their ears the sound of rushing water, of the stream grown bold and swollen by the recent rains, and then the sound of a dog barking.
“Cabal!” Lizzy shouted, and in the distance, her husband’s voice echoed, “Cabal!”
The dog barked again, and then again. By the time the adults located the source of the barking, Darcy had caught up with them, and he added his voice to the calls of, “Will! Will!”
“Mama, Papa, I am safe!” A small voice sounded through the trees. “But I cannot come to you, for I am marooned.”
Where on earth, Edward wondered with distraction, did a three-year-old learn a word like “marooned?”
They broke through into a clearing by the stream, and there on a small island in the rushing water, stood young Will, with faithful Cabal at his side.
“I wanted to know where the water came from for the pond,” he stated, “and when I found this river, I decided to examine the rock here,” he pointed calmly to a large pink and black variegated stone. “But then the branch holding back the water broke away and I was stranded. Cabal came to be with me, but he could not carry me to safety.” The dog was, Edward could now see, covered in wet mud up to his haunches.
Darcy, already wet and muddy from his dive into the pond, delayed not an instant, but strode into the rushing waters, confident in his own strength and superior height. He reached his son in moments and carried him back to the safety of the shore, Cabal following obediently, his job of ensuring the child’s safety now completed. Edward’s mind flashed back to a similar incident so many years ago and he shivered at the recollection.
Hugs and kisses and cries of wonderment and alarm at the boy’s adventure ensued, his parents alternately angry and relieved, consoling and chastising, and before long the group returned to the manor house. Edward rushed ahead to alert the other searchers that the young fugitive had been found safe and sound, and by the time the others entered the house, they were met with warm blankets and the guilty good wishes of all.
“Uncle, Aunt,” Lizzy breathed when at last she felt able to relinquish her son from her arms, “however did you think to go to the woods? Whatever made you look there?”
Aunt Gardiner pulled the young woman into a quick embrace and winked at her husband. “Does she not know, my dear?”
Edward smiled and let his eyes drift back to a day not so different from this one, seventeen years before. “Ah, Lizzy, now that is a tale. Did I never tell you the story of how I met your aunt?”

Wasn’t that just lovely? And Sweet? Did you remember how Aunt Gardiner and Uncle Gardiner met? I chuckled at the ending, and just plain loved it personally!

Guys, that was that for this time! I will be back soon with “The Best Laid Flight Plans” with Leigh Dreyer. See you soon!

Book Tour of “The Assistant” by Riana Everly

Welcome Back Dear Readers,

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This time I am hosting Riana Everly, who is the author of “The Assistant” which is a “Before Pride and Prejudice” book, which follows Mr Edward Gardiner, uncle to the Bennet girls. The book has just been published, it’s A tale of love, secrets, and adventure across the ocean.

Let’s start out with a Blurb;

A tale of love, secrets, and adventure across the ocean
When textile merchant Edward Gardiner rescues an injured youth, he has no notion that this simple act of kindness will change his life. The boy is bright and has a gift for numbers that soon makes him a valued assistant and part of the Gardiners’ business, but he also has secrets and a set of unusual acquaintances. When he introduces Edward to his sparkling and unconventional friend, Miss Grant, Edward finds himself falling in love.
But who is this enigmatic woman who so quickly finds her way to Edward’s heart? Do the deep secrets she refuses to reveal have anything to do with the appearance of a sinister stranger, or with the rumours of a missing heir to a northern estate? As danger mounts, Edward must find the answers in order to save the woman who has bewitched him . . . but the answers themselves may destroy all his hopes.
Set against the background of Jane Austen’s London, this Pride and Prejudice prequel casts us into the world of Elizabeth Bennet’s beloved Aunt and Uncle Gardiner. Their unlikely tale takes the reader from the woods of Derbyshire to the ballrooms of London, to the shores of Nova Scotia. With so much at stake, can they find their Happily Ever After?

Doesn’t it sound brilliantly adventurous?! I sure thought so, and I can guaranty it is well worth reading! And to imagine “Aunt and Uncle” Gardiner’s story!! It is so nerve wrecking, so adventurous and sweet at the same time! Riana wants a few words before I start going on about how brilliantly well her book is written and comes to my review of her book!

Thank you, Sophia, for welcoming me to your blog. I’m delighted to be here and to talk about my new book, The Assistant. This is my first stop on the blog tour, and I’m excited to be telling people about my story and the characters I’ve come to love so much.
***
What’s this, you ask, a novel about Edward Gardiner? Why on earth would somebody wish to write something like that?
I can think of so many reasons, one of which being that every respectable man of good character and a charming wife must be in want of a story! And in Pride and Prejudice, we see every evidence of Mr Gardiner being a man of excellent character. Lizzy Bennet adores her London-based aunt and uncle, and more importantly, she respects them. Jane Austen describes this in this way:
Mr Gardiner was a sensible, gentlemanlike man, greatly superior to his sister, as well by nature as education. The Netherfield ladies would have had difficulty in believing that a man who lived by trade, and within view of his own warehouses, could have been so well-bred and agreeable. Mrs Gardiner, who was several years younger than Mrs Bennet and Mrs Philips, was an amiable, intelligent, elegant woman, and a great favourite with all her Longbourn nieces. Between the two eldest and herself especially there subsisted a very particular regard.
Sensible, well-bred, agreeable, young, amiable, intelligent, elegant…. What’s not to like? And such is the closeness between the older Bennet sisters and the Gardiners that Jane stays with them for several months after Bingley departs Meryton, and they later invite Lizzy to join them on a holiday that takes them to Derbyshire, and ultimately, Pemberley.
Surely such a fine couple, so charming in their own ways and so beloved by one of our favourite characters, must have a fascinating story all their own. The Assistant is such a story, wending its way through Derbyshire, the ballrooms and warehouses of London, all the way to the distant shores of Nova Scotia.
Not surprisingly, Lizzy and her uncle Edward had a special relationship dating back to her childhood. As an intelligent man, he loved that similar spark in his niece and recognized in her a wit and curiosity that would lead her on grand adventures of her own. He also knew that those little ears heard everything and that her mind forgot nothing! He had better not mention that mysterious lady he had recently encountered in her hearing! For who knows what little Lizzy might do with that information! Fortunately, Lizzy is taken enough with Edward’s new assistant that he need not worry about her spending all her time listening in on conversations.
Here is an excerpt from The Assistant, in which Edward travels to visit his sister and her family.
***
“Are you now too fine for my simple house, Brother?” Frances Bennet asked, oblivious to her current status as wife to a gentleman when her brother was a mere tradesman. “You, who are used to the latest fashions of London and who goes gallivanting off to parts of the country for your business. Do you see anything here you like?” She gestured at the lavishly appointed, somewhat rococo sitting room in which they took their tea.
“And my daughters, my fine daughters, what think you of them, Brother? Are they not a handsome collection of girls? See how strong and big they are growing.”
Edward turned to admire his nieces with such adequate attention as to satisfy their mother. The elder two were, indeed, quite handsome. Jane, especially, had the promise of great beauty upon her. At eleven years of age, her prettiness had not yet begun to change into the loveliness of womanhood, but Edward could see a future in which her poor father might have to lock his doors against her suitors. She had her mother’s sweet and generous nature but tempered with her father’s calm intelligence. Yes, she would be a prize for some lucky young man.
Elizabeth, his favourite of the girls, was not quite as beautiful as her older sister, but there was a sparkle to her eyes that would also stop hearts someday. Even as young as she was, her regard held a touch of irony and a tireless curiosity, and she scampered about the countryside with little regard to her mother’s nerves, always looking for a shady spot to collapse and read whatever tome she had absconded with from her father’s library. There were no secrets to be had from Lizzy, Edward realized. He would have to be careful about discussing Miss Grant over the course of this visit. Those young ears heard all and that mind, so keen and perceptive, understood far more than her mere nine years should allow.
The younger three girls were little more than babies. Mary, seven years old, was quiet and moody, most likely the result of being ignored in favours of her bright older sisters or her two active younger ones. Catherine and Lydia, aged five and nearly four, took all of their mother’s energy. They were pretty enough little girls, Edward supposed, all covered in lace and ribbons, but at such tender ages, he could hardly have an opinion of their character.
~*~
“I want a walk!” Elizabeth announced a while later as the adults took their tea.
“Now Lizzy, you know not to interrupt,” her mother admonished her sternly. Mr Bennet merely gazed at his impertinent daughter as if agreeing with her assessment.
“I am sorry to interrupt, Mama,” she declaimed as she had been taught, “but I still want a walk! Who shall come with me? Come, Jane! And you, Matthew I think your name is, you shall come too. We shall explore the wilds of Araby, just through those trees. Papa, are there many trees and much snow in Araby?”
Matthew looked at Edward, tacitly asking his permission. “How is your ankle, lad? Are you up for scrambling over stiles and under shrubbery with these young monsters who are my nieces?” He smiled at the girls.
“I, Uncle Edward, am a lady,” pronounced Jane in clear tones, “and I do not scramble.” She looked serenely down her perfect nose. “I should enjoy a walk, though, Lizzy. I shall get my heavy coat, for it is cold.”

461px-'The_Elphinston_Children'_by_Henry_Raeburn,_Cincinnati_Art_Museum 1814 The AssistantRiana has told me that she could easily see Lizzie dressed as on the picture, which I also could, Lizzie in her adventure clothes! It would be so very like Elizabeth to do such a thing! *laughs cheekily* It is also very fun to read of a young Lizzie Bennet and to see that she will only change a little during the ten years between Riana’s book and her first meeting with arrogant and shy Mr Darcy.
Though I loved to see how Mr Gardiner came to be ‘Uncle and Aunt Gardiner’ it was quite an adventure!

 

 

MY REVIEW;

The plot starts in Derby, where Mr Edward Gardiner, is on business, during a festival day in the busy town, when he takes a walk, his life is turned upside-down when he finds a young boy, who later becomes Mr Gardiner’s ‘Assistant’, as the boy is a genius with numbers, and yet the Assistant is very private and have some oddities which make the reader think.
What Edward is not prepared for is the mystery and intrigue that surrounds his new assistant. A letter arrives at Mr Gardiner from a mysterious ‘Miss Grant’ who knows his young assistant, and soon Mr Gardiner’s world ends as he knows it and is turned on its axel as he falls for the mysterious ‘Miss Grant’.
A ball makes Mr Gardiner and ‘Miss Grant’ meet and feelings blossom, though mystery and treachery make ‘Miss Grant’ disappear and The Assistant and Mr Gardiner cross the Atlantic to solve the mystery. Soon the very private assistant’s identity is revealed…

Now a little about our author, Riana!

Riana Everly was born in South Africa but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11 and has never looked back.
Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

And there’s a chance to buy this wonderful new book!! Go and do it! I would!

Links

Universal book link: https://www.books2read.com/theassistant

If you want store-specific links for Amazon, they are as follows.
Amazon US link: https://www.amazon.com/Assistant-Before-Pride-Prejudice-ebook/dp/B07B3NFMQ4
Amazon Canada link: https://www.amazon.ca/Assistant-Before-Pride-Prejudice-ebook/dp/B07B3NFMQ4
Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Assistant-Before-Pride-Prejudice-ebook/dp/B07B3NFMQ4/

And you can also contact our lovely author here;

Social Media Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RianaEverly

Website – https://rianaeverly.com/

And NOW, FINALLY the GIVEAWAY!!! There’s a chance to win a copy of this adventurous book about Mr Gardiner and how he became the beloved uncle of the Bennet girls!

Rafflecopter Giveaway
I am giving away five copies of the E-book to blog readers through a random drawing on Rafflecopter. I will contact winners through the email address they provide to ascertain the appropriate format for the file. I will email the file directly to the winners.

Rafflecopter

And is it at this time, I am afraid! Though do either go and buy the book or enter the giveaway, it is well worth the effort, I promise! So, I will see you all after my exams! On a side note, check back on my blog in several weeks as a Short Story of “The Assistant” might appear!

See you, guys!

 

 

 

Scotland Regency Adventure

The next adventure starts as I see Edinburgh appear under me, as my flight commences with its descent and landing in the Scottish highland. My anticipation of seeing old friends again makes me fidget in my seat, I can’t wait to get out of the airport and find my friends in the city!

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Last time I was in Edinburgh, the airport showed itself to be a pleasant and well placed in contrast to the city, only thirty or so minutes from the heart of the city.

I found the girls near Waverly Bridge, and Elaine, Christin and I were off for the Potter Trail Tour straight away, the tour guide Becky was a nice Transfiguration Professor, and tour guide who told the eager people of the tour about the details some of us knew, and some we didn’t about the famous book series. The tour ended near Victoria Street which is also seen as part of Diagon Alley.

After that we made our way back to Waverly St. to pick up Emma aka Em, who we were soon united with, then we picked up some food on the way to our apartment, where we relaxed the rest of the evening. The apartment is two big rooms; one bedroom, one living room/dining room, bath and kitchen and with a small entrance hall. After food, we brought out the gifts, we had all assembled for Christin, aka my regency sister who received numerous Ravenclaw (Hogwarts) things, including a Ravenclaw Stone, Banner and a Jane Austen bracelet. We played Hogwarts Monopoly and then around midnight went to bed after much laughter and talk.

Saturday dawned, it rained! It poured cats and dogs, so instead of doing the Potter Trail with Emma, we postponed it. An interview about the Potter Trail will appear on my blog in April during my interview with friend and fellow blogger, Christin.

Since the weather was so bad, we headed for the National Portrait Gallery, where we spent an enjoyable morning. In the portrait gallery, pictures ranged from modern pictures to pictures and sketches of Charles I and his unfortunate death, pictures of French ladies and gentlemen, regency pictures where nature and man were combined, to Queen Victoria and further up to famous Premier Minister Churchill.

Thereafter we headed for the Assembly Rooms, to practice for the evening’s ball. There we met up with several known faces, including costume expert Zack and other friends from Bath. My friends and I were all in costume, which got us an acknowledged comment from our dancing master and we were again, led through numerous dances, reels and quadrilles by Regency Dance Master Stuart Marsden.Sophia hair for ball

We hurried back to our lovely little apartment, where we changed out of wet clothes, into comfortable dry clothes and started to get ready for the evening’s ball. Can’t wait! Emma helped us all with our hair, she really is a genius about arranging hair!

The ball was amazing!! So lively, fun and difficult at the same time! 20180310_232148200_iOS

And the demonstrations of dancing was amazing! They were so good! The dancers just kept going! Though so did the rest of us, I danced nearly every dance, except for the next to last sets, and I did have some very nice partners, all of them I knew from earlier balls. The girls and I had a wonderful time, dancing, chatting, meeting new people and catching up with old friends and acquaintances.

Emma and Sophia at the ball

We joked about the fact if it had been during the Regency, the girls and I would have been engaged to each other, several times over during the last few years! Since we always end up dancing three or more times together during a ball. I had half of my dances spoken for, so I danced a few times with the girls and with James, Jay and Jon. I was only sad to see that the Savage dance had been taken out of the ball plans, as it’s a favourite of mine. Though the cotillion is very, very pretty because it includes not only tour de dames but also waltz steps, which I love.

We went back to our apartment to toast to Christin’s birthday again and ended up playing ‘Marrying Mr Darcy’ where Elaine won, she played as Elizabeth Bennet, while Mary Bennet who was played by Emma ended up with Mr Wickham, Jane Bennet with Mr Denny and Caroline Bingley as a spinster. Before we were in bed it was close to 3 am Sunday morning! It was a lovely ending to the evening.

The next morning, we all packed our bags and left the apartment to go and use the last few hours in the city. Christin led the way, as we took Emma and Elaine on a shortened Potter Trail tour through Greyfriars Churchyard where the poet William McGonagall and You-Know-Who is buried and inspired J. K. Rowling when she wrote “The Goblet of Fire” and the churchyard scene – the churchyard did remind me of the scene in “The Goblet of Fire” where You-Know-Who is brought back to life. We ended at the Elephant House where J. K. Rowling might have started the draft of “Harry Potter and the Philosophers stone” where we had lunch.

Then we returned to Victoria Street, aka Diagon Alley, where the shops are the well-known Madame Malkin (a tailoring shop), Flourish and Blotts (an antique bookshop), and Weasleys Wizards Wheezes (A tourist Harry Potter inspired shop). A quick visit to Edinburgh Castle, where we took several pictures, and then we walked on steps and more steps through the city, before Christin and I made our way to the bus station to get the luggage we had stashed there earlier that morning.

 

It was sad to say goodbye to Emma and Elaine again especially has it had been a short weekend since we had had a funny and wonderful weekend full of Harry Potter, Regency and fun together. Christin and I spent an enjoyable time at the airport after a short ride there in the Airport Link. It was nearly too sad to say goodbye to my regency sister again, but I know we will soon be reunited. I ate a quick dinner and bought a new book for my trip home before I had to find my gate and were soon on my way back to Denmark.

Another adventure had ended, but again it was fun and enjoyable – I can’t wait for the next adventure with my friends and regency family!

 

 

The Exile – The Countess visit Longbourn

The Exile2 Blog Tour Banner[1412]Welcome back dear readers! It has been a while! I got NEWS!

I’m pleased to announce that Don Jacobson has a new book written and published, the next in the line of the Wardrobe story. I wonder what everyone will think of the new book, I personally loved it!

I will let you, dear readers go on now, Don has graciously let us read a blurb from his book, and further down in this blog there is an excerpt too. Warning, long blog entry, so I hope you can manage.

“I have been shaped by the events of over forty years. The world is a nasty place full of awful persons, Mr Wickham, and does not get any lighter through complaining or blaming.”

The Countess: An Enigma? A Mystery? Or a young girl all-grown-up?

Kitty Bennet, the fourth daughter of the Master and Mistress of Longbourn, had spent far too long as the shadow of her youngest sister. The all-knowing Meryton chinwaggers suggested that young Miss Bennet needed education—and quickly.

How right they were…but the type of instruction Kitty Bennet received, and the where/when in which she matriculated was far beyond their ken. For they knew nothing of that remarkable piece of furniture which had been part of the lives of clan Bennet for over 120 years: The Bennet Wardrobe.

Forty-six years from when she left her Papa’s bookroom, the Dowager Countess of Matlock returned to that exact same moment in 1811 to tend to many important pieces of Family business.

In the process, Kitty Fitzwilliam helped her youngest sister find the love she craved with the hero who, as the Duke said, “saved us all.”

“Who can resist the magic of time-travel? Pages of worldwide history rustle back and forth between Regency grand salons, Napoleonic battlefields and more recent conflicts as, guided by Don Jacobson’s masterful pen, the Bennet sisters grow as people and come into their own. ‘The Countess Visits Longbourn’ is a wonderful new instalment, and we cannot fail to revel in the excellent writing and the abundance of detail as the mysteries of the Wardrobe continue to unfold. This captivating series, that brings together real and much-loved fictional characters from all walks of life, is one to savour, and I will revisit it again and again.” – Joana Starnes, author of Miss Darcy’s Companion

And now, dear readers, I hope you desperately want to get your hands on the book, therefore I will let you read what I think of the book, through my review.

My Review of the book;

This book, the fifth in the row, takes place when Kitty or Lady Kate is 63 years old and returns to Longbourn after some odd fifty years away. Now she must assure that her father takes the appropriate steps to preserve her version of the future, secure who the Keeper of the Wardrobe will be and make sure that the remaining Bennet sister will find her way to happiness.

From peaceful Deauville to war-torn Europe, we follow how steps are taken to protect the Bennet’s and the Wardrobe against the change of time, the evil which will use it for their own purposes and even Bennet’s who aren’t ready for their time to learn.

I was very pleased with Don’s next piece of the puzzle which is the Wardrobe series, and small plot holes I had noticed in the earlier books was filled with the information you are given in this book, including how Lydia and Wickham became so very devoted to each other, and how steps are taken which will lead Wickham to become a new man and Lydia to become the powerful and strong Countess of Matlock.

Much laughter and yet sadness was presented in this book, as many of the characters from earlier books had begun their next great adventure. A new sense of Lydia, as a grown up and sensible woman started to emerge, which I find to my liking, as it would be another character who Don would make me like for the first time. Furthermore, old enemies appear as the book draws to a close, remember back to “The Exile” and then it will make sense.

I do suggest a handkerchief for the ending though since I did cry a bit as it was tragic and yet sweet in its own way.

All in all, another masterpiece to the puzzle which is the Wardrobe series. I can only congratulate Don on yet another wonderful book and hope to see the next one soon.

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Dear readers, Don is very generous and have allowed us all a peek into his wonderful book!! Imagine that! Don gave me carte blanche to edit in the chapter, we have been allowed to read, but I couldn’t get myself to cut or edit anything in it so, without further ado – I give you: Chapter XXIII

This excerpt is © 2018 by Donald P. Jacobson. Any reproduction without the expressed written consent of the creator of this work is expressly prohibited. Published in the United States of America.

This excerpt introduces the reader to Miss Laura Jenkinson, the spinster sister-in-law of Mrs Jenkinson of Rosings Park. She has been tasked by young Mr Hunters of Wilson and Hunters, the Bennet family’s London solicitors, to retrieve Mrs Lydia Wickham from Newcastle on Tyne.

Chapter XXIII

Oakham House, London, January 2, 1812

Lydia Wickham allowed her natural exuberance to overtake her as she raced off, leaving her companion behind on the stairway leading up to the second floor of the modest red brick townhouse. She burst through the doorway to her chamber and threw herself onto the plush feather bed, a burble of excited laughter escaping her lips. In utter glee, she made an “angel” on the cloud-like satin coverlet, kicking her legs apart to swiftly bring them back together again to click the heels of her street shoes together.

Shopping did that to her—especially when she had nobody to control her purse strings. Gloves and bonnets, stockings and small clothes, day dresses and evening gowns—lace and ribbons bedecking them all—were among the greatest enjoyments she could imagine. Never in all of my life have I been fortunate enough to be set free…to bring my custom and taste to the modistes and milliners of London with carte blanche. And their faces when this stranger started ordering goods like Georgiana Darcy!
E-e-e-e-e-e-e!!!!!!
She kicked her heels on the bed and literally wriggled, feeling every square inch of her youthful body tingle with excitement and—yes—pleasure.

Until

“Mrs Wickham!”

There in the doorway stood Miss Jenkinson, Lydia’s companion: a lady just turned spinster, dark-haired, and of medium build.

Laura Jenkinson, to be fair, was older only in comparison to Mrs Wickham. The sister of a deceased clergyman, Miss J (as she preferred to be styled) had been forced to earn her way—much like her late brother’s wife—when the grippe took off her two nieces and much older brother. Unlike his widow, who was employed as a young lady’s companion down in Kent, she had been saddened but not scarred by the horrible events now three years behind her. Her natural spirit had not been crushed to the point of utter compliance in all matters of her life. Her other “deficiencies” bore more powerfully upon her current situation.

Although still in her mid-twenties, she was now “on the shelf.” The term “poor as church mice” definitely applied to her family. Her Papa’s parish had been short on glebe and tithe, barely providing enough of a living for them. The question of any dowry to be settled upon her was laughable. Even before her brother’s decease, she had considered trying her fortunes in America. Then came the grim weeks in January 1809. Her brother’s patron allowed the two bereaved ladies to continue to live on his estate in a tenant’s cottage until a late spring fever carried him away.

His protection did not extend past the grave. The Jenkinson ladies resolved to abandon their sinecure when the estate’s new master, a son rarely seen on the land in recent years, roughly abused Laura when he came upon her walking just days after she had shifted from deep mourning into her now customary grey. There was no loss of virtue, but the sense of security with which she had lived her entire life fled like clouds before a North Sea gale roaring in over the Northumbrian cliffs!

Thus began her pilgrimage that lasted some months until she had entered the service of the Hunters’ family, caring for Mrs Frederick Hunters as she declined in the months before her death.

Now she was on—how did young Mr Hunters put it? Ah, yes, she was on retainer, paid a monthly stipend, to serve the needs of the firm and family. And, so she did, from her base here in Oakham House, a property held in blind trust and managed by Wilson and Hunters. When not on firm business, Miss J was under strict instructions to “live the life of a lady of a particular age with some, but not bountiful, means.” The red brick townhouse, appointed with imported woodwork, was pleasant, but not ostentatious, and comfortable, without speaking of any resources that would attract a fortune hunter.

Looking now at the young “lady” bouncing on the bedstead, all Miss Jenkinson could do was shake her head. Of all the little “projects” that had been laid before her, Lydia Wickham posed the most unique set of challenges.

Here was a girl, one who should still have been in the schoolroom, now married for over a third of a year. She seemed to be without any social restrictions, always ready for enjoyment, always searching for the next bit of excitement. She surely would have profited from another twelve-month in the schoolroom.

The schoolroom—that was Miss Jenkinson’s other “deficiency.” She was a bit of a bluestocking…actually a lot of a bluestocking…enough to deter most men.

Ahhh, the schoolroom, mused Miss J, God help me, but I loved it so. Papa and Charles, of course, had their bookroom and their Oxford friends, but I had my sanctuary filled with books and maps where Miss Wallace showed me the wonders of the Classics—Homer and all of the Greeks, of course—but then the geniuses of Roman times! How the Latin rolled in my mouth! Greek was so elemental, almost primitive at times. But, Latin? Oh, what elegance to repeat the speeches of Cicero—ones that moved the Plains of Jupiter when the citizens gathered to elect their leaders! Or old Seneca when he contemplated morality and mortality!

Her lot was keeping Lydia Wickham in check until Mr Hunters could more fully explain the purpose behind bringing a soldier’s wife completely across the country—nearly 300 miles—all the way from Newcastle on Tyne. But, reining in the child’s inner hedonist—yes, Lydia Wickham was nothing if not about self-pleasure—was proving to be quite a task indeed. Laura had followed her instructions to the letter. She had been tasked to escort the girl on shopping excursions in Town, quiet now as those who could escape to their estates for the holidays were long-gone from their normal haunts. Others, the highest reaches of the ton who usually preferred to stay closer to Kensington and Carlton, had, perforce, travelled to Northamptonshire at the behest of the Marquess of Salisbury for the Cecil Twelfth Night Ball.

The reduction in customers, albeit traditional, had, none-the-less, left those toiling in the London fashion world somewhat—Miss J smiled as she punned—at loose ends. Lydia Wickham swept in like a late-season storm rolling up the Thames Estuary. The accounts opened on her behalf by the firm only stipulated that all purchases needed to be delivered to Oakham House no later than the morning of January the Third.

With only emergency purchases to be sent to Burghley House or one of the other Cecil estates housing the Marquess’ guests, there were ample seamstresses and milliners’ apprentices to ply their trade on behalf of Mrs Wickham.

Since their arrival at the front portico of Oakham House six days ago, Lydia often had strained the limits of propriety, tending to exhibit behaviour more often ascribed to members of the climbing class. Her sense of dignity was stunted. She would dash around, not mindlessly but rather with a purpose, modiste showrooms. These temples of fashion, usually only open to the wealthiest members of the First Circle, were now in the reach of the impoverished wife of a minor officer because of the golden web that led from the Wilson and Hunters offices in Lincoln’s Inn.

Yet, she did not show any awareness that she acted contrary to society’s expectations of ‘proper behaviour.’ Lydia Wickham was demanding, to be sure, but only in that, she was almost monomaniacal in expressing her desires. She placed every sense and sentiment that passed through her mind in front of the entire world. She held nothing back.

Nor was she a calculating and malicious shrew. Miss J had seen those, tall, thin, beturbaned women who dressed in garish colours, looking down what they assumed to be fashionably long noses at the world about them. They would profess astonishment at those who did not act in accordance with their copybook expectations of social norms—all the better to elevate themselves in a world determined to isolate and exclude interlopers.

Lydia Wickham wanted nothing more than to enjoy herself and to be surrounded by those who acted as she did. Still a child in so many ways, she had not been shaped by Town behaviour. Instead, when she had only been young Lydia Bennet, she frolicked through the fields of her life in bucolic Hertfordshire. And, while it may have shocked many of her oft-dowdy sorority, Miss J found much to admire in the gusto with which Mrs Wickham embraced her life.

The older lady did worry that the girl, some ten years younger than she, could not well endure disappointment, though, embracing as she clearly did only half of Marcus Aurelias’ vaunted Roman Stoicism—that pleasure and pain are equal parts of life and needed to be endured in similar measure. Well-meaning or even indolent adults had shielded Lydia from nearly every instructive blow.

Yet, the time for philosophizing would be later. Miss J needed to take Mrs Wickham in hand immediately: gently if possible, brusquely if not.

She firmly repeated herself, “ Mrs Wickham! Enough of this hoydenish behaviour! If you wish to be taken seriously by society, if you wish to reflect credit upon your family, you must learn to regulate yourself.”

Lydia sat up and draped her legs over the edge of the bed, swinging her feet to and fro, showing a considerable amount of ankle with each perambulation. A pout pushed her lower lip out as thunderclouds collected above, darkening her remarkable emerald green eyes. Laura slowly moved across the room. She settled on the edge of the bed, turning herself ever so slightly to be able to address the youngster on the same level.

She tried a little sugar to cajole Lydia, “I do understand how exciting working one’s way through the shops can be. I remember the times my Papa would bring us to Town when he waited upon his bishop. I would save up my allowance for an entire quarter just to be able to bring back a bonnet direct from a London milliner, all the better to show my more rusticated friends in the North just how cosmopolitan I, a clergyman’s daughter, could be.”

Lydia bit hard upon the bait dangling before her, “Oh, imagine Maria Lucas’ reaction when I show her my Town clothes! She can put on such airs, you know, just because her father went and got himself knighted.”

Miss J continued, hoping to encourage a bit more charitable reaction upon her charge’s part, “While I am certain Miss Lucas will wish she had the good fortune to have come to the attention of a benefactor as you did, she sounds as though she would wish you joy rather than be jealous. Or, am I mistaken about her?”

While Lydia was one of the most self-centred persons outside of the Prince Regent’s hangers-on, she also had her own code of honour, well-formed and distinct. Once you had been judged her friend, Lydia would defend you from all comers, both familial and foreign!

And Maria Lucas was one whom, she was certain, would return to her former closeness once the unusual nature of Lydia’s marriage to her dear Wickham had dimmed somewhat. Maria was never going to threaten Mrs Wollstonecraft’s bent for scholarship. However, she was a dear creature whose innate sweetness was always a source of comfort to Meryton’s young ladies tossed as they were upon the waves of youthful love and loss.

Lydia recalled the time when Mary had snapped a particularly nasty unkindness at Maria just as the girl was going on about some bit of gossip—or what passed for such given her age and the news’ source—during a morning call at Lucas Lodge. Where moments before had sat her playmate, posing as a grown-up lady preening in front of her own Mama and Lydia’s, was instantly a whirlwind of ribbons and muslin dashing from the room.[i] Lydia had then spent over an hour trying to comfort the distraught girl, long enough to have earned an invitation to luncheon from a grateful Lady Lucas.

However, Lydia did not forget the slight given by her elder sister. A few days after the event, Mary’s window-pane spectacles began mysteriously vanishing—first from the pianoforte—for Mary removed them to read music—and then, later, from the sideboard in the dining room—for Papa had briefly banned their wearing while at the table—and finally from Mary’s monk-like bedchamber. The first two times, the glasses had been located quickly…once laced through the chains holding the weights in the great case clock that dominated the parlour…and later hanging by a piece of yarn above the pigsty. However, the last time her sister’s affectation went wandering, lest Mary somehow mistake the message, they were found propped on the nose of the bust of Julius Caesar that Papa had insisted upon installing in the corner of the west-facing sitting room: the lenses smeared with Cook’s famous strawberry preserves!

Mrs Wickham rearranged her face and sat back before saying in a solemn tone, “Miss J, you do have the right of it. Maria would never begrudge me my happiness. She would ask me if she could borrow one of my gowns if we were off to an Assembly. Then we would join my dear sister Kitty and dance until the musicians packed away their tools.

“There are times I regret leaving that life, you know. I would not trade my dear Wickham for anything, but I miss not having to worry about money. That is why I could not contain myself just now. I do apologize.”

Laura smiled at the contrition that showed yet another facet of the complicated soul that was Lydia Wickham.

She stood and smoothed imaginary wrinkles out of her gown with elegant brushes of her long-fingered hands. Then she began to move from the room, turning to look over her shoulder at the childlike matron, saying, “Perhaps we might gather in the breakfast room for a casual luncheon in, oh, perhaps thirty minutes. That will allow us both some time to freshen ourselves.

“We have one more appointment this afternoon, one for which we cannot be late. You are to meet the person who has taken you into her interest.”

[i] Please see The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey. Ch. XII.

HI, Guys, I know you are likely thinking, How long is this blog entry!? Well, I am nearly done, you just have to scroll down to the GIVEAWAY! Yeah, you read that right, an INTERNATIONAL giveaway, there’s a chance to win a copy of this book! So please bear with me for a few minutes more, thank you.

Author Bio;

Don Jacobson Head Shot[568]

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years. His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio. His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards. He has previously published five books, all non-fiction. In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series—The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey, novel that grew from two earlier novellas. The Exile is the second volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series. Other JAFF P&P Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” and “The Maid and The Footman.”

Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a speciality in American Foreign Relations. As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.

He is a member of JASNA-Puget Sound. Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective (see the internet, Facebook and Twitter).

He lives in the Seattle, WA area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty-pound cat, Bear.

And FINALLY, the GIVEAWAY!! I wish everyone good luck in the draw! Click on the link please – and good luck!

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they, (which will be verified). If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.

A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook or Paperback of The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn by Don Jacobson. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is INTERNATIONAL.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0ca86b9b21/?

Contact Info:

Website

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads Author Page

Twitter

Buy Links:  Paperback & Kindle

Amazon US

Amazon UK

 

Hi Guys, that’s it for this time, but on a side note; Do return in early March, to read about “My Scotland Adventure”! See you!

 

 

Anticipation of Scotland Adventure

Hi Guys,

I couldn’t help myself but write of the anticipation of my next adventure next month in the Highlands of Scotland, in Edinburgh, along with several friends!
It is a weekend visit, from Friday afternoon to Sunday Evening, and I can hardly wait to meet up with several crazy if wonderful friends!

We are going to see several sights, including a few Harry Potter ones, and also attend the Assembly Regency Ball, which will again be called by Stuart Marsden. On that note, I have bought a 20180205_145438041_iOSnew wonderful regency ball dress for the occasion, it is autumn reddish/brown with gold details. I intend to add either red or black ballerina shoes, black gloves and a fan.

Though what I mostly look forward to, is just to have fun with my friends, as it has been several months since I saw them last, in Bath, during the annual festival. We always have plenty of fun, when we are together. So I do believe we will have fun yet again.

Will I see you there? Do leave word if you are in Edinburgh during the weekend of March 9-11th, and maybe are attend the Assembly Ball.

I will be back soon with my guest, Don Jacobson on the 20th of February, during the book tour of his newest book, “The Exile, The Countess Visits Longbourn”.